District to Add Boys Volleyball and Girls Flag Football in 2023-24
Growing up in what she calls “a big football town,” Breleigh Cayea yearned to participate in an activity that generated so much school pride. Behind a supportive community, the Carmel football team won the school’s first state championship in 2021 and has earned Section 1 titles the last two years.
“I think all of the girls just wanted to get behind something and experience something with so much passion,” Cayea said.
Now they may have the chance. In fact, the district, pending budget approval later this spring, plans to add two new varsity programs: boys volleyball and girls flag football.
The volleyball team would compete this fall with flag football to follow next spring. They would be the first new varsity sports to join the district’s offerings since boys and girls lacrosse in 2011.
“Everyone’s been really excited,” said Cayea, whose two older brothers, Peyton and Trevor, played football for her father, Todd, who has coached the varsity since 1995. “There should be a lot of girls who play.”
Sophomore Thomas Dyer first showed interest in a boys volleyball program last fall. He approached athletic director Chris Salumn with the idea and Salumn suggested he create a petition.
“I said I knew others who were interested in the sport but hadn’t had a chance to play. They wanted at least 10 signatures, but I got 40,” said Dyer, whose pitch was then presented to the Board of Education.
Both sports have grown in the Hudson Valley in recent years and that piqued the students’ interest. There were 14 schools in Section 1 that competed in boys volleyball last fall. This spring, 15 teams have fielded flag football teams.
Flag football began in the region last spring after receiving support from the New York Giants and New York Jets. The Giants, including starting quarterback Daniel Jones, helped kick off the inaugural season by hosting a jamboree last April at Somers High School.
“Once we saw the other schools doing it and all of the pride exploding in the communities, we wanted to have a team of our own,” Cayea said.